Pat Rabbitte: Budget Day now is but a pale reflection of budgets past

The Minister for Finance must have been delighted to hear that the unspent sums are €6 billion more than anticipated – so why aren’t we all dancing in the streets at the news?

Former finance minister Ray MacSharry, whose nickname became ‘Mac the Knife’. Picture: GrahamHughes/Photocall Ireland

An esteemed secretary-general of my acquaintance looked forward to the end of year tidying up of accounts for his department. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than the trip to Foley’s pub on Merrion Row for two glasses of Guinness before he went on to the Department of Finance to announce that he would be returning a small number of unspent millions.

For one reason or another, and for one amount or another, most departments of ...